​Day 87: mile 1216 to mile 1242.9

7.11.18. 26.9 miles.

Today started off weird, as I slept through my alarm and didn’t end up waking up until 5:35! And then I noticed pretty much right next to my face where my food bag was, were tiny holes in the mesh in my tent right near there that definitely were not there the night before, or at least the day before. A mouse had been trying to get to my food, either in Sierra City or last night. So I was a little frustrated this morning, now needing to repair my tent. *Ugh*

The morning went by pretty quickly, and I took a probably too long break at the top of the 1,000 ft climb only 5 miles into the day bc I had service. I recently became aware that there were actually 7 S-Town episodes and iTunes originally only showed me & downloaded the first 4, so I wanted to get the rest, and also to communicate w Butters, my parents, and social media. In hindsight, I probably also should have ordered mesh repair stuff but I wasn’t thinking of that at the time. I chatted with Dirty Money at the top, and Tiny Slice and Shocks as they walked by, and Flash, another hiker I met last night, as well.

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I finally left and did the descent, eventually Flash caught up with me and we hiked a little together and talked about the trail, life, etc. he’s from Eugene, OR and is trying to get to Ashland by the end of July for a family reunion & then take some more time off to see friends at home (& eat!), so he’s been crushing 30s a lot. I then proceeded to tell him about the restaurants I go to when I’m in Eugene and how much I would kill for Papa Soul Food rn (RIP) and Red Wagon Creamery since I’m on an ice cream craving ever since getting to NorCal. Since he had way more miles to hike & was obviously just slowing down a bit to chat with me, I let him take off and do the next ascent by myself at a much more appropriate (i.e. slow) pace. During the first part of this ascent I ran into a PCTA trail party! Everyone was so nice and there were so many volunteers and it was wonderful to see all these trail maintainers out and doing really hard work to give us a beautiful trail. And they picked a good spot too, bc the trail tread was super weird here: like soft mulch/ soil. I talked with a few of them for a bit and then continued my climb, slightly jealous that they were breaking for lunch and I still had 4 more miles to my predetermined lunch spot.

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I eventually made it there after a climb that kicked my butt in the heat (still have the rain jacket on), and there was only a little bit of shade and I was being attacked by flies the whole time, most likely bc I smell like a huge pile of dog shit.

Needless to say, lunch was not relaxing, so I picked up and kept hiking after an hour of putting up with that. I had about 4 miles to the next water source, and when I got there, there were many hikers! Dirty Money, Sausage and Renee who I met today but have seen a few times before, an older, married couple whose names I’m blanking on, and Birdman, who I also met today.

 Trail crew volunteers! 

Trail crew volunteers! 

I was feeling pretty good and in a nice groove and listening to S-Town, so I decided I’d hike another 6 miles to a tentsite listed on guthook’s. The miles sure do fly by when you have sometime to preoccupy yourself with. There have been some views today, but mostly in the trees or views of hills with trees, etc. so it’s nice to have something to distract yourself with. I try to limit my podcast/ music listening to after lunch, so I do sit with my thoughts in the morning. I got to camp around 8 pm, and Dirty Money, Sausage, and Renee were there, and we ate dinner and talked and then finally set up camp around 9. It’s 10 right now and I’m so tired! I’m going to try to wake up at my normal time tomorrow and get to camp a little earlier just so I can get into my normal rhythm again!

Day 86: Sierra City to mile 1216

7.10.18. 20.6 miles.

I woke up to my alarm at 5 today, but slept for a few more minutes after, even though I got plenty of sleep at night. That’s one problem with Benadryl. I definitely feel groggy in the mornings when I take it, even if I take it relatively early in the evening. I did feel much better today though, sickness wise. I took my time getting ready, and went down to the public bathroom area with the picnic table to finish prepping my breakfast shake and to use the restroom one last time. I then went down to the country store real quick to use the WiFi for a few minutes before leaving.

 such a nice sign

such a nice sign

There were practically no cars driving by. Only CalTrans and AT&T, so I had to walk back to the trail, almost the whole way until I got a ride for the last quarter mile that had other hikers inside: Stoveless & Airlift/Miguel. So I walked an extra 1.25 miles today.

 The Sierra Buttes

The Sierra Buttes

I knew this climb was going to be brutal, so I pretty much put my head down and walked. The climb wasn’t actually that bad. The worst part was the sometimes super rocky sections in the exposed areas. Also, I’m wearing my rain jacket for full skin protection today, so I was sweating like a monster. I think the whole back of my shirt was wet at some point. I took a break about 2/3 of the way up the climb bc there was shade so I could take off the rain jacket and air out.

 hate when the trail is like this

hate when the trail is like this

 hit 1,200 miles on the climb!

hit 1,200 miles on the climb!

It was very satisfying reaching the top of this climb. But I still needed to fully descend before taking a lunch break, so I kept going, and I realized later that I was walking into the new PCT re-route that dips down to Tamarack Lakes and the campground I was planning on lunching in. The lakes were very nice, but the climb after the campground was miserable! Maybe they should have kept the PCT the way it was and not give us an extra 1,300 ft climb?

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It was super hot today, so I took a 2.5 hour lunch break at the campsite and got a little nap in as well. I trudged out at 3:30 pm to do that climb and it was not fun. Thank goodness for podcasts. I started listening to S-Town, which had been recommended to me, and it’s really good! Nothing really eventful after the climb except for the climb being done. I got to camp around 7:30 and there were tons of hikers there! I had barely seen any all day and now here they are! Funny how that happens.

 there were tons of ppl paddle boarding and kayaking in this lake and I was jealous 

there were tons of ppl paddle boarding and kayaking in this lake and I was jealous 

I was a little lonely today without Hot Mess & Butters, and not really seeing anyone while hiking. I also didn’t see any women on trail today which I didn’t really think I would notice, but I definitely noticed. Where my girls at?! The people I’m camped around are really nice though. I met Shocks and Tiny Slice who are brothers, and Tooth Fairy. We ate dinner together and chatted about food, catholes, shoes, and farts. Just your typical hiker conversations! Going to bed pretty late though, around 9:30, so I am pooped!

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​Day 85: mile 1184.7 to Sierra City

7.9.18. 10.7 miles.

Today did not go as planned. When I woke up this morning, I felt awful. At first I thought I was just groggy from the Benadryl, but once I started getting my things together, I realized I was so thirsty, and had a headache, and a sore throat. Great. I basically chugged my 0.7 L water/ carnation breakfast mix to quench my thirst and finished getting ready. I knew Hot Mess & Butters would definitely be going faster than me, so I let them go ahead and I took my time. I should also mention that sleeping last night was sometimes difficult: my sunburn was causing my body to be terrible at self-regulating temperature, and it was a warm night anyways.

Every step felt challenging this morning. The uphills were bad, the mostly downhill with random uphills were terrible, especially when the trail was rocky. I felt dizzy at times, but just concentrated on my feet and tried to push through. The only redeeming quality of the hike was that it was mostly shaded, which is just what my sunburn needed.

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I needed to take a poop break, a water filter break, and about 4 pee breaks during the descent to town. Generally not what my mornings look like at all.

I actually made really good time, it took me 4.5 hours to do the 10.7 miles, which is just a little slower than normal. Thankfully, when I got to the road to Sierra City, Mouse and Thumbellina were already there and attempting to hitch. The first car that came by when I got to the road gave us a ride to town! It was so perfect bc I really didn’t want to wait in the sun for a hitch. We got dropped off at the country store, whose porch was filled with hikers waiting for them to open. I sat down next to Hot Mess & Butters, totally exhausted, and starving, even though I ate all of my morning snacks. I drank a lot of water, and when the store opened, went inside to place my food order, get some Advil, and inquire about sunscreen (they were out).

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I got a strawberry milkshake, half pound burger, and curly fries, all of which I couldn’t finish but were delicious. At this point I was trying to decide what to do. I knew for certain there was no way I was going to hike out in the heat of the day with Hot Mess & Butters to attempt a 3,000+ ft climb and 12 more miles, our original plan. I was grappling with hiking out later in the evening or staying overnight since the church has free camping. After a long, drawn-out decision making process, I decided to stay the night in town. I knew I made the right decision when later in the evening, I started getting the chills from the sunburn and it started to blister slightly. Still don’t know what to do tomorrow, as I was going to hike out first thing in the morning, but I also don’t want to push it, as there’s a solid 4-5 days of hiking to Belden. I could stop earlier in Quincy, so that’s also an option. I’ll see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow morning. All I know is that it’s 7 pm right now and I’m going to sleep! 

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Day 84: mile 1160.7 to mile 1184.7

7.8.18. 24 miles.

First full day back on trail after all those zeros! I feel surprisingly well! I guess those days of rest were good. I was scared I’d feel super sluggish like after Mammoth Lakes.

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I woke up at the usual time and was hiking with Hot Mess & Butters by 6, like normal. It was nice to go poop in the pit toilet again, and not have to dig a hole. Yay! Today was a rollercoaster. We had 4 consecutive 400-600 foot climbs, generally over 1-2 miles long. They weren’t individually hard at all, it was definitely a nice ease back into the trail. There were really nice views of the mountains for most of the morning, except when we were in trees, and cool ridge walks. It was super windy though, worse than coming into Donner Pass for me, but still not as bad as Tehachapi. The wind actually felt good though because it was pretty hot, and I also have a bad sunburn on my arms from switching to a short sleeve shirt, so the cool air provided relief.

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We hiked 16 miles before lunch and did it before noon! I was pretty proud of us, but like I said, the miles weren’t too difficult.

We took a pretty relaxed lunch break, at over 1.5 hours since we only had 8 more miles to hike! It was really hot in the afternoon though when the wind wasn’t blowing. We saw a really large lake in the distance that seemed close to the PCT, and when we went on Guthook’s to inquire, we found out there was a car campsite there with lake access and it was only .25 miles off the PCT. We had to go. We reached the access road at 4 pm and made our way through the campground and to the lake, eventually finding a rocky beach. We all dove in, the water felt so good on the sunburn! After our dip we dried out on the shore and chatted with a family that was camping there. They hadn’t really heard of the PCT, so we told them all about it and answered all of their questions. As we were leaving, one of the ladies brought us all snickers bars! They were so nice!

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We only spent about an hour on the detour, and walked back to the trail to hike another mile to our campsite for the night. We still got in super early, like 6 pm, but it is nice to decompress and chill at camp for a little bit. I’m back to cold soaking now, so it was really nice to set up camp and get ready for bed and then join Hot Mess & Butters and just start eating dinner while they’re cooking. It takes me a while to eat dinner sometimes and I love being able to dig right in bc of cold soaking. Waiting for water to boil is the worst.

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We’re camped about 11 miles from Sierra City, and I’m really looking forward to getting into town and eating a burger and milkshake. Hot Mess & Butters have a package coming, so we’ll probably be there for a few hours while they organize and we all eat a good meal. Then we’ll head back out onto the trail! I think most towns in Northern California will be quick in-and-outs, mainly bc we are on a time schedule (got to get to Washington before the weather comes in), and bc it will be less expensive, and bc the towns aren’t too far from the trail, unlike in the Sierra.

​Day 83: Lake of the Pines to Donner Pass to mile 1160.7 Nearo

7.7.18. 7.3 miles.

I woke up super groggy this morning, really not wanting to wake up, but Riley was licking my face wanting breakfast and to pee, so I got up and dealt with the dogs, then cuddled/ slept with my mom for a few hours until it was really time to wake up and get going. I was meeting Hot Mess & Butters back at Donner Pass and bringing them Chick-Fil-A since they had been craving it, so we needed to leave by 11 am. I took a shower, finished some last minute to-do things, went to Starbucks for breakfast one last time, where we happened to run into Auntie Di & Amanda and were able to say goodbye, then went back to the house and packed up all my things and had Mom braid my hair. Then we were off, and we only left 15 minutes late! We drove to Chick-Fil-A and got everyone’s orders. This was my first time having it and it was pretty good, I got the chicken nuggets! I’ll have to have a deluxe sandwich next time. While driving back to the trail I finished writing blog posts and scheduling them, and just like that, we were back!

 Always so weird to me to be at places on the PCT that I’ve been before! 

Always so weird to me to be at places on the PCT that I’ve been before! 

We all met the two of them on the Donner Ski Ranch porch where we hung out for about an hour, then Mom & Dad drove us back to the trail (right down the street). After some goodbyes, we were off! It felt pretty normal to be hiking again. I was worried I’d feel super homesick immediately and not want to get back on the trail, but I think meeting back up with Hot Mess & Butters really made it easier. I was also thrilled to hear they were thinking of only going 7.5 more miles for the day, which was music to my ears! I definitely needed to ease back into hiking after having the 3 days off. The trail was pretty nice and not too difficult, but hauling 6 days of food in my pack was not making it easy. My shoulders were pretty sore about 3 miles in.

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Once we hiked about 3.5 miles, we stopped at the I-80 rest stop to use the bathroom and see if the ice cream vending machine was working. It was, so we got some ice cream and sat in the back eating it in the shade. As we were leaving, a couple came up to us and asked if we wanted trail magic... YES! They had been doing trail magic in the afternoon and were just about to leave. We got some cherries, a soda, and I had a bag of white cheddar popcorn. So great and such good timing! We were obviously taking our time getting to camp.

 New section, new hiking outfit

New section, new hiking outfit

The next 2.5 miles were uphill, but not too steep, and soon enough we were at the top of Castle Pass, a place I had been before! I had Butters take a similar photo of me in the same spot from the winter. Our goal for the night was the Peter Grubb Hut, a backcountry hut maintained by the Sierra Club, mainly for winter use. It’s right off the PCT. There were actually Sierra Club volunteers there when we got there so we chatted with them a lot about our hike and about what they do. It was nice to talk with them!

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We didn’t sleep in the hut, but went around the side and pitched our tents in the forest.

We’re going to do a bigger day tomorrow to set up well for Sierra City the next day! I don’t need to resupply there or do town chores except charging, but I’ll probably get lunch at the general store, and then we’ll hike out.

Day 82: Lake of the Pines Triple Zero

7.6.18. 0 miles.

A day of fully relaxing, finally!

The Iowa family and my grandparents left this morning, so we said our goodbyes, and then went to Starbucks to get breakfast. Once we got back, we all pretty much laid on the sofa for the majority of the day. We watched the most recent Bachelorette episode, and then the Princess Diaries since it was on Netflix and a total blast from the past. Katy’s parents were up at the lake with their family, and they stopped by for a little bit to say hi and talk about the trail.

After more laying, we figured we should get up and get some dinner, so the fam went out to Thai food in old town. We picked up the movie Coco on our way home since Dad and Allison hadn’t seen it yet, and watched that after dinner. I was pretty exhausted from not doing anything all day, and fell asleep on the sofa after the movie and just slept there for the night. Back to the trail tomorrow, where I’ll be meeting back up with Hot Mess & Butters!

Day 81: Lake of the Pines Double Zero

7.5.18. 0 miles.

Today was errand day! My mom and I were finally able to get out of the house at 10:30 after more family arrived and we chatted with them for a bit. First stop was driving to Roseville for REI. I needed to return shoes that I knew weren’t going to work, and exchange the pair I’d been wearing since Mammoth Lakes: they were too big and I kept tripping over everything. I also needed to buy some bug spray and permethrin to re-treat my clothes. I also got some new shorts that are more sweat-wicking than my old ones. After the long REI trip, we went to the mall to try to get my Poké fix. The Poké was ok, nothing like Pokeatery back at home.

On our way back home, we went to Safeway to do resupply. I’m going to be packing food from here until Belden, which is going to be about 6 days, and resupplying for a box that I’m sending to Burney Mountain Guest Ranch. We stopped by the post office on the way home to pick up a box, then once we got home, I emptied everything out and packed my resupplies up in their respective containers. I also ate a full Talenti since I’m going back to cold soaking and needed a new jar!

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I relaxed for a little bit after this, watched the Bachelorette, said goodbye to some family, and then we went over to the Smerdel’s for dinner: wings & pizza. I was so tired at the Smerdel’s and also so full from food, that I passed out on the sofa after eating and slept until everyone was ready to leave, and then went right to bed once we got back home.

Day 80: Lake of the Pines Zero

7.4.18. 0 miles.

4th of July! This holiday is a big deal at the lakehouse, as the lake does it’s own fireworks show. I woke up pretty early, and Riley was sleeping with me and jumped on my once I started stirring, so I got up and fed the dogs and then went to wake up my mom. We went down to Starbucks, and then over to the Smerdel’s house to spend some relaxing down time with them before everyone else was up.

We had some non-PCT errands to run, and I wanted some Panda Express for lunch, so we went into town to do that. We then went back home and I made a list of things I needed to do, and started my laundry. I had two loads: my normal clothes, and then my down items. I washed my quilt and my down jacket since I had special down wash and didn’t have to pay for laundry, so unlimited drying! The rest of the day was spent relaxing, talking to family, and then watching the fireworks show once it was dark. We stayed up way too late tonight and I was getting exhausted. I eventually retreated back to the van for bed once people started leaving.

Day 79: mile 1125.7 to Donner Pass to Lake of the Pines

7.3.18. 27.7 miles.

I woke up at my usual time, 5 am, and got packed up, admiring the really pretty sunrise over Lake Tahoe from my camp spot. The morning temps were perfect for hiking, but within 30 minutes of starting, I smelled and saw smoke in the air. Curious about where it was coming from, I asked Instagram about it and apparently there is a fire near Sacramento that is blowing smoke this way, which made sense since the winds were blowing east pretty hard all morning.

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The first climb was pretty mild and I spent the majority of it along a ridge until I got to the Alpine Meadows ski lift area. I was sort of leap frogging with another hiker, Tin Man, for the morning, and we chatted about dogs as we descended the mountain. The next climb was much harder, and just seemed to drag on for me, as I was getting tired and ready for a little lunch break since it had been about 15 miles of hiking so far. I only took a break for 45 minutes, as it was already 1 pm and I still had a ways to go! I went back down the mountain, running into many day hikers as there are day hiking trails that start from Squaw Valley.

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The next ascent seemed easier even though it was steeper, maybe because I stopped to filter water halfway up, since it was the last water source until the highway! The top of the climb was to Tinker Knob, a big volcanic rock thing, and the views were so gorgeous! The ridge walk for the majority of the rest of the hike was absolutely awesome too. It was super windy, but no where near as bad as Tehachapi.

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With 3 miles to go, I needed a poop break, and as I was finishing, an older man appeared who is a local and was out for a hike, and hiked the PCT in 2002! We walked down some of the way together, until we got down to rocky switchbacks and I saw my mom and Riley waiting for me! Riley ran up to greet me, very happy to see me, and I’m sure also happy to be out on a little hike herself. We walked back to the car where my dad was, and I insisted on walking to the real parking lot where they’d drop me off, so I met them up there, walking with Riley.

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It was so nice to see them and know I had some real time off! We drove down to my favorite ice cream place at Donner Lake and then hit the road to go back to the lakehouse, about a 1 hour drive. Of course, I needed a pit stop at In n Out for dinner.

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We got home around 8:30ish to a house full of family & friends, some family I hadn’t seen in 10 years! It was very overwhelming, and I had yet to shower. So after saying some hellos and finishing my dinner, I got in the shower while my parents made up my bed in the van (no beds available since there were so many people over), and then I went to bed! Such a tiring day, but ok since I get lots of rest the next few days!

​Day 78: mile 1098.4 to mile 1125.7

7.2.18. 27.3 miles.

Wow, another record-breaking day! Today started off relatively uneventful except for an emergency poo that got me out of my tent at 4:30 am. I figured I may as well start getting ready for the day since I don’t have a set start time anymore without Hot Mess & Butters, so I slowly got ready, taking time to admire the sun rising on the mountains above Lake Aloha.

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The first few miles of the day were pretty easy (except for the annoying rockiness) and mostly downhill, and then the climb to Dick’s Pass started. The climb actually wasn’t too bad. I stopped by the Gilmore Lake junction to look for a note my REI team left me but just found a piece of yellow notepad paper that may have had writing on it at some point? I’ll have to ask them. Either way, I packed it out. Once I got on the ridge I got phone service and sent Taylor, a friend from high school, some info about where I’d be today since she really wanted to do trail magic! I didn’t really know for sure, and of course I did some math wrong, and I didn’t have service for long, as it went away after the top of the pass, so didn’t hear back from her in that time frame. Something that did happen though was I saw a coyote while I was peeing! And of course I left my phone & camera in my backpack, so I couldn’t document it.

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The descent was super easy down Dick’s and very beautiful as well. Actually, the whole rest of the morning and into the afternoon was fairly easy. The trail was a normal, dirt trail for the most part, which makes walking easier. I also ran into the section hikers I met yesterday at a water filtering break and it was nice to talk with them again! I took a quick lunch break, just long enough to eat bc the mosquitos were descending. I could have picked a better spot, but I had already gone 14.5 miles and I was hungry.

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The whole day I was checking my phone to see if I had service/ see if Taylor was going to do Trail magic near a lake I thought might be accessible to her. I was able to get a text out, but I lost service almost immediately. I pretty much gave up on seeing her, but I noticed that if I made it to Barker Pass, I’d have phone service and maybe be able to contact her! After a little more up & down and a lot more miles, I reached the dirt road at 6:30, having done 26.5 miles. I called her immediately and she was so happy! She informed me she had a cooler of goodies ready all day. I felt bad, wishing I had phone service earlier. I asked if she would come get me & bring me to her house which she happily agreed to. One problem, which was discovered around 8 pm, after her and her dad were given incorrect information from police and road people was that cars were not able to access the road I was waiting at, and they could not come to get me. It was a very sad revelation for all of us. I had gotten my hopes up a little too high for a shower.

I ended up hiking on for just a little longer past the trailhead and am now cowboy camped on a ridge with the most gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe, and it was such a nice sunset too, which I caught the ending of.

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I’m bummed I couldn’t meet up with Taylor, but she informed me on the phone she’s already looking at maps for roads that intersect the PCT for my hike tomorrow so she could at least bring me a snack. On the bright side, I’m making a big push into Donner Pass tomorrow, another 27+ mile day to get to my lakehouse & family earlier, which means I’ll probably take 3 full zero days! Hopefully I don’t die tomorrow, lol. I took some ibuprofen tonight to recoup from today/ prep for tomorrow. All I need to do is make it to the trailhead before 8:30 pm, bc I really want ice cream from a shop at Donner Lake that closes at 9. Wish me luck!

Day 77: mile 1081.9 to Echo Lake to mile 1098.4

7.1.18. 16.5 miles.

I woke up and got ready super fast today bc I had to go poop sooo bad when I woke up.

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Nothing super exciting happened in the morning. We had a nice sunrise that glowed on the mountains by Showers Lake, some ups and downs, and then a steep uphill and a very long, steep descent down to highway 50. I led the way in the morning with Butters & Hot Mess behind. We chatted for a good deal of the way, we knew this time would be a real goodbye, as we don’t know when exactly we’ll see each other again.

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It was sad watching them get their ride (who was a super cool trail angel named Grateful Dad with an awesome painted van. Apparently his daughter is hiking this year and he’s really into the trail angeling). We hiked 8ish miles to the road and I still had another 2 to go to get to the Echo Lake chalet, including a smaller uphill.

 Echo lake

Echo lake

It took me forever to go those 2 miles bc I had to get water from a stream since they don’t fill water bottles at the chalet and the lake water is filled with boat exhaust and there’s no other water sources until Lake Aloha, and I also had service. I finally got to the chalet around 10:30, and sat around with a bunch of backpackers who were beginning their trips: PCT section hikers, weekenders, etc. I talked to one group for a while before they left. Then, I needed to get my act together and figure out how much food I needed to get to Donner Pass. The options were not that great, and kind of expensive, but I was able to scrape a resupply together. I also got a delicious sandwich and milkshake, which I highly recommend getting. I went back outside and ate all my goodies and chatted with some more PCTers and other hikers. I also had service so I scheduled blogs, talked with my mom on the phone, downloaded all the of the guthook’s maps/ pictures for NorCal, and did some online things. I ended up staying there until about 2:30pm. I was feeling incredibly full after all my food and really couldn’t bear the thought of moving after that.

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I debated going further than Lake Aloha while I was resting, but shortly into the hike I realized I wasn’t going any further. The uphill wasn’t too hard, but the trail was just so rocky and it was SO hot I could feel the sun on me and the rocks reflecting the heat back onto me. I was tripping so much on all the rocks, I just wanted to be done with the day. It took me almost 3 hours to do 6.5 miles, so I was going pretty slow. Also, the returning day hikers were all incredibly annoying since none of them seemed to know proper trail etiquette, like yielding to uphill hikers. I was stopping so often bc no one would stop for me, which made getting into a hiking rhythm difficult.

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I was super happy when I got to Lake Aloha since I have been wanting to camp here for a while, and because it is just so beautiful! I soaked my feet in the lake, filtered water, made dinner, and rested in my tent the whole evening.

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I didn’t completely rest, I did sort of roughly plan out all of my Northern California resupply based on Guthook’s. I’ll re-read Yogi’s book for that part when I get to Truckee and see if I want to change anything.

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I’m glad I had a shorter day today. I feel like I kind of needed it since I haven’t had a sub-18 mile day (or any rest days) since my zeros in Mammoth, over 1 week ago. I’m looking forward to getting to my lakehouse and having some good rest. And actual rest too, like laying on a pool floaty in the lake and then watching Netflix and not moving. 

Day 76: mile 1060.4 to mile 1081.9

6.30.18. 21.5 miles.

Waking up today was hard. Partly due to the Benadryl, and party bc I knew no one was waiting for me to get up and get going. Somehow, I managed to get hiking by 6 am like usual though.

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The miles this morning weren’t too tough, but the first climb of the day was a little rough. I had service on the way up though, so I kept stopping to check things & communicate with Mom. Eventually when I got to the top of the climb, I still had service and decided to take a morning break and eat a snack, since I had already done 8ish miles.

 this chipmunk watched me pee

this chipmunk watched me pee

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I was trying to make it to the Carson Pass Information Center for lunch since I figured they would have picnic tables and a pit toilet, so I hustled down the mountain and still had one longer climb ahead of me. So I put on the tunes and listened to an episode of BachelorPod (don’t judge) to get me through the rest of the morning. The views were pretty nice and the ascent actually wasn’t too hard. There was a huge snowfield at the top of the climb though and the snow was pretty slippery and it was a little sketch bc you’d slide a long ways down if you slipped. Once I was past that though, it was all downhill to Carson Pass.

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I passed SO MANY day hikers going in the opposite direction. Then I realized it was a Saturday before a holiday. Most were nice as I made my way down, some completely ignored my happy “Hellos”. I had gotten word from a “flipper” earlier that there was trail magic at the info center, so I was super peppy going down.

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Once I reached the trailhead and got to the info center I was immediately asked by the volunteers if I wanted coke/ fruit/ homemade cinnamon rolls. YES was my answer to all of it. The volunteers are SO nice. Not only are they volunteering their time to give information out to tourists and hikers, but they also use their own time to bring trail magic to PCT hikers! They are truly angels and really love the wilderness around here.

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I hung out for about 2 hours just chilling and eating. I talked to a hiker named Popcorn for a while, and also a few day hikers who had questions about the PCT. They’re pretty cute when they are super amazed at how far we’ve walked.

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After enjoying the magic and shade, I decided to head off. It was only 3 and I only had 5 miles to go to my planned campsite, but I figured it would be nice to get there earlier. The hike was super beautiful to Showers Lake, I even got a view of Lake Tahoe on the way! The campsite I originally wanted above the lake was already taken, so I kept going down to the lake. There were so. many. people. And then I realized for a second time that it was a holiday Saturday and this lake is only 5 miles from the road, so, tons of people. I managed to find a spot further up from the water above the trail, set up, ate dinner, and brushed my teeth. In the middle of teeth brushing, I turned around and saw a red shirt... it was Hot Mess! “NO WAY” I shouted out! 1. I couldn’t believe he was there/ hiked this far today 2. I couldn’t believe he just wandered over to where I happened to be camped even though it was hidden from the trail. He was shocked as well. We joked that we’d probably see each other at lunch today, but we actually did end up seeing each other! I walked down to the trail, toothbrush in hand, to surprise Butters as she walked in, and we reunited 24 hours later with hugs. I watched them eat dinner and we talked about our days, and a huge group of people walked by from a ways away. The leader of the group talked with us- he is a volunteer with the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and was bringing first time backpackers out on a “Backpacking 101” class. He told us about an awesome view of Lake Tahoe, so after Hot Mess & Butters finished dinner, we went over there and watched the sun set over the lake. What a great night to reunite! We actually will be parting ways tomorrow though, as they will be going into South Lake Tahoe and I am bypassing it, but we will hike together in the morning until their hitching spot!

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​Day 75: mile 1036.2 to mile 1060.4

6.29.18. 24.2 miles.

Today started off pretty annoying. I woke up around 3:30 am to a super runny nose, watery eyes, and sneezing. This never happens. I can tell it’s allergies and not a cold bc everything else is completely normal. It’s frustrating bc I took a Benadryl last night, which is becoming my new nightly routine. I immediately took a Claritin once I started sneezing, which I usually wait to take with my other morning meds. I was up for an hour blowing my nose. And I was pretty much a snotty mess for the rest of the morning.

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I lost Hot Mess & Butters before our morning climb bc I needed to go to the bathroom/ change layers, and then I had service towards the top of the climb, but not the actual top, so I sat on my phone for a while. When I got to the top, they were still there, very comfortably chilling out on their phones. Hikers kind of live for phone service sometimes. We had such a nice view at the top too! We discussed where we wanted to eat lunch: at the road (highway 4), and maybe there would be a possibility of trail magic bc it’s a highway and a Friday? We were cautiously hopeful. All I usually want is a soda.

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Once we were a mile from the road, we ran into some day hikers who casually informed us of the “food station” at the road for thru-hikers. We got SO EXCITED. We didn’t know what to expect, but we turned the gas on and booked it there. The trail magic was beyond all expectations. This was my first big trail magic since I-10 (around mile 200!) and it was incredible! All of the trail angels were so generous and talkative and cheered every time someone walked up. They wouldn’t stop feeding us! I had some bean salad, macaroni salad, a bacon cheeseburger w kale, fruit salad, an apple fritter, a slice of cheesecake, some Cheetos, a 7-Up and a Dr. Pepper. All in under 2 hours. I was pretty full. I also recognized the people who set everything up! I went to a PCT talk w my parents back in December in Auburn, and these guys were there sort of sponsoring the event! I recognized the main man, Alan, and he recognized me as well! It was such a fun afternoon socializing with all the hikers around us too. And with Hot Mess & Butters, especially since I would be separating from them today :(

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We hiked on after the trail magic for a while until we reached the top of a climb where they were going to camp and said our goodbyes, but hopefully just “see you laters”. We all did math wrong on how long it would take, so they can’t get to South Lake Tahoe before the 2nd, and I want to be in Truckee on the 4th. So I need to hike farther, and they can’t. It was pretty sad saying goodbye to them. I’ve hiked with them the longest out of all the people I’ve hiked with, almost 600 miles! It’s going to be interesting the next few days to see how I am hiking alone. I’m going to miss them so much though! I almost felt like a little bird leaving the nest. I’m confident in the trail though. It manages to bring people together, even if you haven’t seen each other in weeks. So I know I’ll see them again, hopefully soon.

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I continued onto my camp spot, only to find that the stream it’s by was dry, and I needed water, so I hiked another mile-ish to the next campsite with water. There were lots of people there, and thankfully room for me to pitch my tent. One of the guys was Ecstatic, who I met on the detour day after Wrightwood! I’d seen him in passing a few times since then, but it was nice to reconnect. I also met Upstream, and Flamingo was there, who I had met at Kennedy Meadows South. They had a fire going to keep the mosquitos at bay, and I joined them over dinner and chatted with everybody before retreating back to my tent for bed.

Day 74: Kennedy Meadows North to mile 1036.2

6.28.18. 19.3 miles.

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Ahhh I got to sleep in this morning! Almost to 6:30. So glorious. We needed to get going though bc dinner service was very slow last night and we needed to get back to the trail ASAP. We got down to breakfast around 6:45 and got our orders placed and food served much faster! After breakfast, we finished packing our things and walked about a mile down the road back to the highway to get a hitch back to the trail. This was my longest wait for a hitch yet, at about 45 minutes. There were 5 other hikers “in line” before us, and the rest of us semi-hid behind some rocks so that we wouldn’t look so intimidating and they could hopefully get a ride faster. They did, and we got in the next car that stopped. Our driver was so nice! Her name was Kate and she lives in Mammoth Lakes. She told us all about the fires that were going on that we just missed and how she was up here to hike and get away from the smoke! I’m so glad we missed those fires. I knew I saw smoky skies when we were leaving Mammoth, but I didn’t really have a way to figure out what was happening!

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We finally started hiking around 9:45. Not too much to be excited about here, except for a change in scenery and NO MOSQUITOS! It was so amazing to have a full day of not hearing annoying buzzing right in your ear/ slapping your legs silly every time you feel something in hopes of killing the mosquitos. We had just a little bit more snow on the trail, and lots and lots of mud. We took lunch after the second climb of the day, about 11 miles in. The afternoon wasn’t too exciting, just some pretty views and a rollercoaster trail. It’s been pretty cool to see how drastically the landscape changed. I definitely feel like I’m getting into Northern California! So many corn lilies and mules ears plants.

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When we got to camp, Mouse and Thumbellina were there, so it was really nice to reconnect with them and hear about their experiences in the Sierra over dinner. And guess what? No mosquitos at camp either, so it was actually enjoyable!!! Such a big deal. It’s colder tonight than it has been in a while, so I am very cozied up in my quilt, and can’t wait to go to sleep.

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I also realized today I did the math wrong on getting to Donner Pass, and will actually be arriving on the 4th! So I will be joining in the holiday festivities with the whole fam!

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​Day 73: mile 998.3 to mile 1016.9 to Kennedy Meadows North Resort

6.27.18. 18.6 miles.

Thankfully since we made so many miles yesterday, we got going at our normal time today: 6:00 am. Not so lucky for us, the mosquitos were already awake and ready for the bloodbath at that time too. I had on my wind pants and head net first thing to avoid them. Which is why I look so dang cute in my 1,000 mile picture! Yep, we passed 1,000 miles today, which was super awesome. I got Vanessa Carlton’s song stuck in my head for the rest of the morning.

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We had a little bit of downhill in the forest before we got to our last water source for 10 miles and needed to fill up. Then we had a pretty big climb up to the top of a ridge, which we stayed on for a decent amount of time. The views were incredible! Definitely a nice change from the lack of views the last few days. It was phenomenal.

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We had lunch at the top of the ridge, not too long of a break because we wanted to make it to Sonora Pass at a decent time, and we still had some climbing to do.

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What we didn’t really realize was how much snow we were going to have to walk through! It really slowed things down though, especially with not having my microspikes anymore. I greatly dislike the ridge snow traverses. I’m just super careful with my steps and so slow because of it. Obviously I’m happier that way because it’s safe, but it just adds a lot of time and it’s mentally exhausting.

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We finally reached a pretty dry part and just got to walk for the first time in what felt like forever bc the trail was also so nice and not super rocky/ rooty. I also had some service during the walk so I was able to get a few texts out to the fam. Hopefully I’ll have more service coming up as I get closer to Tahoe!

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We got to the top of the climb, and right as we started descending, there were many snow patches, which would be a theme of the descent. They honestly weren’t too bad, but there was so much mud and loose scree that it made walking around the snow to get to the tracks kind of sketchy. I fell down twice today, one of which was kind of scary bc I fell down snow going downhill and lost a trekking pole (was able to recover!) and basically had to crawl back up snow/ scree to the trail. I got a little cut up from that one.

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Finally I reached the bottom and Butters was waiting for me at the sign. There were posters for trail magic at the picnic area so we went over there but there wasn’t anything happening. We walked down to the highway to try to get a hitch and the guy who was doing the trail magic was leaving and offered one of us a ride since he only had room for one! I took it so Hot Mess & Butters could stay together. I had a lovely ride with him. Turns out he lives in Palo Alto and he does trail maintenance with the PCTA for this section (Dorothy Pass to Carson Pass) and he was just a really nice guy to talk to! He said he had 99 hikers come through in 2 days, which is why he packed up early: he ran out of food!

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He dropped me off right at the Kennedy Meadows resort and I was able to check in and get a bunk room. Hot Mess & Butters arrived shortly after me, and I convinced them to stay the night as well, as they were unsure if they were going to. Without much time for relaxing, I got right in to chores: resupply shopping in the store, re-organizing stuff, getting a shower, and waiting to get laundry done. When I finally got my laundry in the wash, I got dinner in the restaurant, and then was able to get my clothes in a dryer. We socialized with the younger workers who were also trying to do laundry and one of the cowboys bought me a soft serve, which was very sweet of him. After all of that, it was time to get to bed! Verizon had cell service so I was able to get a little bit by hooking up to Hot Mess’s hot spot and check Instagram and try to get a blog post scheduled. The service was really slow so I ended up falling asleep while doing these things. At 11 pm! So late for hiker standards.

Day 72: mile 971.2 to mile 998.3

6.26.18. 27.1 miles.

Biggest day yet! Today was... let’s just say that northern Yosemite is not blowing me away, and this is coming from someone who loooves this park.

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Today was a day of ups and downs, literally and figuratively. We had lots of elevation gain/ loss. Once we went up a mountain, we’d go back down, and do the whole thing over again. I think we did this 3 or 4 times today?

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Nothing really stands out as spectacular. Just lots and lots and lots of mosquitos. I don’t know how there can possibly be so many.

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At lunch though, I realized my toes were kind of numb. I mentioned it to Butters & Hot Mess and apparently this is a thing that happens to thru-hikers and Butters has had numb toes since Warner Springs! The feeling is very weird. There is sensation, just reduced, and tingly at times. Apparently this is called “Christmas Toe” bc you can feel your toes again around Christmas.

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We ended up hiking more than originally intended, but the whole hike up to Dorothy Lake was in buggy, muddy, meadow with absolutely no tent sites, and then (I was behind Hot Mess & Butters for this whole ordeal) when they got to Dorothy Lake ahead of me, there were no open tent sites! Crazy how such a huge lake has very few tenting areas around it. I asked everyone I passed if they had seen other hikers pass, and yep they had. Before I knew it, I was at the top of Dorothy Pass, exiting Yosemite. I figured they were aiming for the next tentsite listed on guthook’s, so I booked it down the pass, thankfully there wasn’t any snow in the way.

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I finally got to the spot a little before 8. Hot Mess was getting a fire going because guess what? The mosquitos are a bitch down here too. Thankfully the smoke kept them at bay enough to eat dinner without my head net on tonight.

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Overall, I’m really happy to be out of Yosemite (aka Mosquito National Park). I’m hoping that it’s better there in the fall, bug wise. But honestly, the climbs were like super annoying in Yosemite too. There were definitely some pretty views, but the majority was just like “meh”. Maybe if I wasn’t pushing bigger miles it would seem nicer? Idk. I’m not giving up on the high country yet. I still have some backpacking trips I want to do there, but will definitely never do them in June/July.

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I’m very excited to be hitting Sonora Pass tomorrow, most likely staying at Kennedy Meadows North resort for the night. I’m trying to make it to a Donner Pass by the end of the day on the 5th, and I think it will work out!

Day 71: mile 948.3 to mile 971.2

6.25.18. 22.9 miles.

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Wow, today was tough. I woke up sort of iffy since I was super hot last night and ended up taking my pants off and sticking my legs out of my quilt. I was also up for almost 1.5 hours purely scratching mosquito bites and rearranging myself due to being warm, then cold. The first few miles out of camp were nice and easy. Not too many views, but it felt really peaceful walking in the woods early in the morning, listening to the birds and stuff. We got to a meadow that was really nice and reminded me of Long Meadow near Sunrise High Sierra Camp. It’s weird being in Yosemite but it not really feeling like Yosemite. It just felt like some random woods for most of the day.

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The first climb of the day totally sucked my energy. It was about 800 ft gain in 1 mile and was just bleh. No views, hot, dusty trail. At least there were no granite steps. Hot Mess & Butters were way ahead of me while I slugged up the mountain. At the top of the climb, we reached Miller Lake which was a really pretty lake, great for swimming bc of the sandy shore. Hot Mess & Butters has already taken a dip by the time I got there. I didn’t really want to swim bc there were lots of mosquitos around. I just got some water to filter and we continued on, just a few more miles until our lunch break at about 12 miles for the day. We miraculously found a spot with minimal mosquitos and other annoying flying bugs and it was like a dream. I got to eat AND relax. Such a treat sometimes.

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I wasn’t really looking forward to the afternoon hiking since the elevation profile on guthook’s looked bad. And my suspicions were pretty much confirmed. The climb up to Benson Pass was brutal, even though we’ve done harder passes before. I used to consider it sacrilegious to listen to music/ podcasts, etc. in Yosemite, but I needed it so bad. The top of the pass was pretty, it definitely felt more like Yosemite up there! I wasn’t in the best of moods to enjoy it, plus I knew we still had a decent amount of hiking left in the day, some of which was uphill, so I quickly went down the pass to try to catch up with Hot Mess & Butters.

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The ups were annoying today, but the downs were too. Either super steep and sketchy downhill with loose soil or super rocky with big steps or the annoying slightly downhill tiny rock step things that are I guess helpful to stock animals but I either slip down them or have to angle my foot just right to successfully go down them (I did a terrible job at describing that and I have no picture to show). The mosquitos were also just so terrible, especially in the afternoon. You can’t stop to catch your breath without being swarmed. So you keep walking.

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We got to our original “must make at least this many miles” campsite, but it was swarming with mosquitos so we tried our luck further down the trail to try to find something decent. We found a pretty good camp with a great view, and we thought there were less mosquitos, but they ALWAYS show up. I wonder how far away they can be and still smell us. It’s so annoying getting to camp and trying to do chores and stuff while being swarmed. Especially in bear country because we can’t do things like eat in our tents! This leads to funny looking dinner scenarios like my below picture.

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We’re getting up again and hiking at the same time as today. I think we’ll be camping very close to the Yosemite border, as we want to get to Sonora Pass by Wednesday evening!

 view from my tent

view from my tent

​Day 70: mile 926.1 to mile 948.3 (Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp)

6.24.18. 22.2 miles.

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We got hiking today at 6 am since we knew it would be a long day. The hike to the base of Donohue was really pretty, with nice mountains and lakes. Of course, the mosquitos were already out. I managed to keep my feet dry at all of the water crossings this morning. Woohoo! The climb up Donohue wasn’t too terrible, but let’s just say I’m happy it’s our last legitimate pass (Sonora Pass is actually a highway). I was feeling #allthefeels when I got to the top of the pass and saw the sign stating we’re entering Yosemite wilderness! My home park, and I walked here!

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The descent was really pretty at first with lots of mountains and a pretty lake, and then was mostly foresty. We saw a lot of SOBO JMTers climbing up Donohue and I did not envy them. The way up the north side of the pass is much longer and steeper.

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Before we knew it, we got to the part of the trail where it basically just levels out the whole way to Tuolumne Meadows. I hadn’t been in Lyell Canyon before, but it is very pretty! Just lots of green meadows, and the water from the Lyell Fork is so turquoise! Once we sat down for a water filtering break, we realized we had 6.5 miles to Tuolumne Meadows and it was about 10 am. We figured we may as well just go the whole way and make it for lunch. The rest of the hike seemed to slog on after that. Some up/down, lots of muddy trail, and just a lot of trees. I just wanted to be there already! I knew we were getting closer when we started seeing tons of day hikers (it’s Sunday) and more trail junctions. Soon, we were passing by the wilderness office, and then Tioga Road! My heart skipped a beat when I saw Lembert Dome and the road and everything. I truly felt home, but it was also such a strange feeling, especially being there without my favorite Yosemite buddy (my mom).

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We booked it to the store/ grill and promptly got in line to order food. I got a soft serve swirl ice cream, cheeseburger, chips, a Powerade, and a Crush soda. I was thirsty! I also got a few trail snacks from the store, including my FAVORITE Yosemite beef jerky (Half Dome Teriyaki, if you were wondering). We chilled out at the picnic tables outside in the shade and caught up with our friend, Old Timer, while eating and drinking. We ended up being there for about 2 hours, but had to leave because we still had about 6 miles to hike.

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Hiking the next 6 miles was super surreal because I’ve hiked them before, and just last summer! It’s the first time on the trail where I was totally familiar with where I was. I thought I’d get a little teary eyed on the top of Donohue, but it actually happened on this part of the trail! I remember how excited I was last year to be out on my first long backpacking trip with my mom, and even more excited it was in the yosemite high country. And we had such a great time, so I got a little emotional. It looked so different than last year though! I’m sure Hot Mess & Butters were getting annoying with me saying “well, last year... xyz” but it’s so true, there was just SO much more water last year, even in mid-July vs. the late-June of now.

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We decided to set up camp at the Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, right off of the PCT. Now, that’s something I didn’t get to do with Mom last year, since we opted to continue hiking towards May Lake since we got there so early and the footbridge was out. The footbridge was still out this year, and it looks like the camp is staying closed as well this year, but the ford to the camp was sooo much lower. Too bad I have to have wet feet starting out tomorrow though, since my shoes didn’t dry. It’s a warm night though, so we’ll see. The mosquitos weren’t as bad tonight as last night, but I still have a lot more bites and they’re starting to drive me crazy!

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Day 69: Mammoth to Red’s to mile 926.1

6.23.18. 19.4 miles.

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I woke up super tired this morning since I didn’t sleep super well in the early morning hours. I kept tossing & turning and wasn’t comfortable with the temp in my room, even getting up to change it cooler. I packed all of my things up, and met Hot Mess & Butters at breakfast at 7 am. We loaded up on the yummy food and then left at 8 to grab our packs, check out, and get the trolley to the village. We didn’t have to wait long, and soon we were on our way. Once at the village, we saw that the Red’s Meadow shuttle was already waiting there, which was awesome bc we didn’t have to take the middle shuttle & didn’t have to wait at all! Reds is one of the last stops on the shuttle, so we watched all the tourists get off at their other stops, while I braided my hair, finished blog posts, and closed my eyes to “nap”.

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new clean shoes

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We got to Red’s earlier than expected, 9 am, and started hiking back to the PCT almost immediately. We saw a few hikers we recognized that just got to reds and were going into mammoth. I felt super sluggish almost immediately. It was like my body forgot how to hike. My pack didn’t feel too heavy thanks to getting rid of the ice axe, microspikes, and a few other small things, but I just felt loopy and sleepy while walking. The trail also sucked. So so sandy and sinking-gravelly. Somehow we hiked nearly 6 miles in our first two hours though, so idk. We had a pretty gradual at first incline, which would basically last all day until we got to camp. Again, I felt like I was dragging so hard. It was so hot out and we were pretty exposed. We had some really nice views of the Minarets while hiking though. We also opted to take the official PCT during this section. Some hikers take the JMT alternate (the trails interestingly diverge for a 15 mile stretch. Not sure why.), but we wanted to do the PCT, my thinking is that eventually I’ll do the whole JMT another time, so I’ll eventually hike that portion.

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We took a lunch break about 9.5 miles into our day, and I had service in the spot (and pretty much the whole day until after thousand island lake). Hot Mess’s stomach wasn’t feeling too hot so he just napped while Butters & I ate. We ended up taking a decent break. Almost 2 hours. We still had to finish the climb, and I was taking forever. We mainly walked separately until we got to thousand island lake and were taking pictures.

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After the beautiful lake, we still had climbing to do to Island Pass (barely a pass) and then it was all downhill to our campsite, and thankfully all the water crossings were rock-hop able/ had a log today! The bad: mosquitos everywhere. I hope this won’t be a theme. I know there are mosquitos, but we were swarmed while getting water, and at camp they were absolutely horrendous. It was terrible cooking & eating outside my tent while being attacked by the flying piranhas. I wish I could take a picture to show you how many of them are swarming outside of my tent right now, but I can’t capture it. There are so many though. At least I am nice and safe in my tent tonight.

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I am really looking forward to getting over Donohue pass tomorrow and getting to Yosemite! Such a great accomplishment, I am so excited!

​Day 68: Mammoth Lakes Double Zero

6.22.18. 0 miles.

Today is my birthday! I had almost given up on pampering myself but late last night I was able to score a pedicure appt first thing in the morning at the place in my hotel. Score. So I went to my pedi at 8 am, which was pretty great, and then I went down to breakfast and absolutely gorged myself.

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I didn’t really have plans for the day except to get my free birthday drink at Starbucks, so I decided to take the trolley to the village store. I sat in there for a while and then Pammy called and I got to talk to her for a while.

Then it was getting later in the afternoon, so I took the trolley to an organic dessert place, Dessert’d, to buy some treats for my birthday, and I got a free cookie there bc it was my birthday! Score!

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I took the trolley back to the hotel, got the package my parents sent me (with new shoes!), took a shower, organized my food, and then proceeded to yelp all the restaurants in mammoth lakes to decide where to eat my birthday dinner, which I really didn’t want to do. I just wanted it to be decided for me. I was kinda disappointed w the restaurant options in mammoth. Mostly caters to the resort rich people crowd/ apres ski whatever. We ended up going to the mammoth brewing co & I got a banh mi, which ended up being pretty good. I also got a glass of rosé and a root beer, bc why not. Then me, Hot Mess & Butters went to fro-yo for dessert which was very yummy, then I went back to the hotel and watched the Giants game on TV, ate my other desserts, and FaceTimed my mom, then finally went to bed around midnight (so late!).

 5.5 day resupply

5.5 day resupply

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